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Books > Hindu > An Indian Rational Theology (Introduction to Udayana's Nyayakusumanjali)
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An Indian Rational Theology (Introduction to Udayana's Nyayakusumanjali)
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An Indian Rational Theology (Introduction to Udayana's Nyayakusumanjali)
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Preface

In the Indian theistic schools of thought we can distinguish two distinct kinds of approach to the doctrine of God, the one based primarily on logical reasoning, the other on the authority of the sacred scriptures. The first mode of approach may be termed ‘philosophical’ or ‘rational’, the second ‘theological’ or ‘scriptural’ Among the Brahmanical systems of the first millennium of our era that admitted the existence of God, the Nyadya-Vaisesika doctrine of God can be said to represent the typical rational theology. No doubt, we come across stray references to theistic Samkhyins and theistic Mimamsakas even during this period, but we have little or no knowledge of their doctrine of God. Moreover, these are representatives of only small groups that have broken themselves off from the classical schools and made some modifications in the doctrines of their respective schools in order to assign a place, perhaps of no great importance, to God.

The Nydya-Vaisesikas have consistently pursued a rational approach to the doctrine of God whom they call Iévara. A glance at the history of the origin and development of the Igvara doctrine of the school shows that, whether it was a question of establishing his existence or his attributes, the adherents of this school have drawn their arguments primarily from reason. This rational approach of the Nydya-Vaisesikas to the doctrine of God is closely bound up with another important doctrine of theirs. In their view the Vedic scriptures do not derive their authoritativeness from intrinsic validity (svatah pramdnyam), as the non-theistic Mimamsa and the theistic Vedanta schools had maintained. For according to them validity of truth was extrinsic (paratah pramdnyam), and in consonant with this theory, the validity of the very Vedic statements was derived from an extrinsic source. This source, they argued, could be no other than Isvara, the omniscient and veracious author of the Veda. As the validity of the Veda was derived from the omniscience and veracity of Isvara, it is quite clear that the Nydya-Vaisesikas could not have argued for the existence of Isvara from the testimony of the Vedic scriptures without making themselves guilty of the logical fault of vicious circle. No doubt they quote scriptural passages now and then, but such scriptural references are, on the whole, very rare, and, when used, they are brought forward at the close of the rational discussion of the point at issue and only in a very subordinate role, namely in confirmation of the conclusion already arrived at through rational arguments. Such references were also intended to show that the conclusions reached by reason were not at variance with the statements in the Vedic scriptures, the validity of which was accepted by the Nyaya-Vaisesikas without any reservation. The method followed by Udayana reveals the predominant role ascribed to the human reason and the subservient role given to the Vedic scriptures in man’s intellectual quest after God.

Udayana’s doctrine of God can be said to be the culmination of a process of development of about a millennium, a process marked by rational contro- versy with the opponents of theism, notably the Buddhists and the Mimaémsa- kas, in which strict logical accuracy went hand in hand with greater precision of ideas and depth of thought. Due, in large measure, to the excessive and almost exclusive importance attached to the problems of epistemology, the successors of Udayana did not make _at least as far as the content is con- cerned any substantial contribution to the doctrine of God. Udayana’s rational or natural theology thus represents the acme of perfection attained by the Nydya-Vaisesikas in their rational search for God.

Moreover, we can say that in studying the doctrine of God as developed and perfected by Udayana we study the Indian rational or natural theology in general. For the only philosophical system other than the Nyadya-Vaisesika that admitted the existence of God and developed a doctrine of God is the Vedanta system. But the method of approach pursued by the Vedantins, whether they belonged to the school of monism or dualism or any other of the diverse intermediary sub-schools of the Vedanta, distinguishes itself from that of the Nyaya-Vaisesikas in that it was the second kind of approach we spoke of at the beginning, namely the theological] or scriptural. Their arguments were primarily based on the authority of the scriptural texts, while rational arguments were relegated to a subordinate place. The Vedantins went even to the extent of saying that neither the existence nor the nature or attributes of God could be known without the help of the sacred scriptures. Since they admit the intrinsic validity (svatah pramadnyam) of the Veda, independent of God, such an approach is also consistent with the doctrines of their school.

The present work is a modest attempt to give a brief introduction to the doctrine of God as found in Udayana’s works in general, in his Nyayakusumanjali in particular. The writer’s aim has been to give as faithful an interpretation of Udayana’s ideas as possible in the given amount of space. How far he has succeeded in the realization of his aim should be left to the judgement of the critical reader. With a view to acquaint the reader with the manner of argumentation of the author of the Nyayakusumanjali, he has let Udayana himself speak by quoting him in translation wherever an important point was at issue.

This study was originally planned to be published as the introductory volume to an English translation of the Nyayakusumanjali It is hoped that the publication of the translation of the Nyayakusumanjali will follow in the near future.

It gives me great pleasure to express my indebtedness and gratitude to those who have in one way or other helped me to bring my present work to completion. I am greatly indebted, first of all, to Prof. Dr. E. FRAUWALLNER, Professor emeritus in Indology at the University of Vienna who introduced me into the study of Indian philosophical texts and in whose seminars I had the happiness of taking part for more than three years. Even after I left Vienna he has shown great interest in my work and encouraged me to study Udayana.

To Prof. Dr. J Gonpa I owe a debt of gratitude not only for inviting me to join the staff of his institute in the University of Utrecht, but also for his active interest and constant encouragement in my work. Besides reading the manuscript of the present work, he took all the trouble of going through my translation of the entire Nyayakusumafjali and offered many suggestions for improvement.

I am indebted to Prof. Dr. G. OBERHAMMER of the University of Vienna for all the help he gave me during my stay in Vienna and afterwards for following my work with friendly interest. He went through the manuscript of this book offering valuable suggestions for improvement. My special thanks are due to him for including this book in the «Publications of the De Nobili Research Library"’ of which he is the editor.

I am very grateful to Prof. Dr. L. ScumirHausen of the University of Minster and Dr. T. Verrer of Utrecht University for their valuable help in understanding some difficult passages of Udayana’s text. I express my thanks to Dr. T. Goupriaan and Dr. K. R. van Kooy, both of the University of Utrecht, for their kind help in reading the proofs. My sincere thanks go also to the staff of the libraries of the Institute of Oriental Languages in Utrecht and of the University of Utrecht for their willing and ready services.

Despite my great interest in Udayana and his works, I have not found him an easy author. What will be presented in this book is but one aspect of the contribution of Udayana to Indian thought. If my modest contribution will incite an interest in the study of Udayana and his works I shall deem my- self amply rewarded.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








An Indian Rational Theology (Introduction to Udayana's Nyayakusumanjali)

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Preface

In the Indian theistic schools of thought we can distinguish two distinct kinds of approach to the doctrine of God, the one based primarily on logical reasoning, the other on the authority of the sacred scriptures. The first mode of approach may be termed ‘philosophical’ or ‘rational’, the second ‘theological’ or ‘scriptural’ Among the Brahmanical systems of the first millennium of our era that admitted the existence of God, the Nyadya-Vaisesika doctrine of God can be said to represent the typical rational theology. No doubt, we come across stray references to theistic Samkhyins and theistic Mimamsakas even during this period, but we have little or no knowledge of their doctrine of God. Moreover, these are representatives of only small groups that have broken themselves off from the classical schools and made some modifications in the doctrines of their respective schools in order to assign a place, perhaps of no great importance, to God.

The Nydya-Vaisesikas have consistently pursued a rational approach to the doctrine of God whom they call Iévara. A glance at the history of the origin and development of the Igvara doctrine of the school shows that, whether it was a question of establishing his existence or his attributes, the adherents of this school have drawn their arguments primarily from reason. This rational approach of the Nydya-Vaisesikas to the doctrine of God is closely bound up with another important doctrine of theirs. In their view the Vedic scriptures do not derive their authoritativeness from intrinsic validity (svatah pramdnyam), as the non-theistic Mimamsa and the theistic Vedanta schools had maintained. For according to them validity of truth was extrinsic (paratah pramdnyam), and in consonant with this theory, the validity of the very Vedic statements was derived from an extrinsic source. This source, they argued, could be no other than Isvara, the omniscient and veracious author of the Veda. As the validity of the Veda was derived from the omniscience and veracity of Isvara, it is quite clear that the Nydya-Vaisesikas could not have argued for the existence of Isvara from the testimony of the Vedic scriptures without making themselves guilty of the logical fault of vicious circle. No doubt they quote scriptural passages now and then, but such scriptural references are, on the whole, very rare, and, when used, they are brought forward at the close of the rational discussion of the point at issue and only in a very subordinate role, namely in confirmation of the conclusion already arrived at through rational arguments. Such references were also intended to show that the conclusions reached by reason were not at variance with the statements in the Vedic scriptures, the validity of which was accepted by the Nyaya-Vaisesikas without any reservation. The method followed by Udayana reveals the predominant role ascribed to the human reason and the subservient role given to the Vedic scriptures in man’s intellectual quest after God.

Udayana’s doctrine of God can be said to be the culmination of a process of development of about a millennium, a process marked by rational contro- versy with the opponents of theism, notably the Buddhists and the Mimaémsa- kas, in which strict logical accuracy went hand in hand with greater precision of ideas and depth of thought. Due, in large measure, to the excessive and almost exclusive importance attached to the problems of epistemology, the successors of Udayana did not make _at least as far as the content is con- cerned any substantial contribution to the doctrine of God. Udayana’s rational or natural theology thus represents the acme of perfection attained by the Nydya-Vaisesikas in their rational search for God.

Moreover, we can say that in studying the doctrine of God as developed and perfected by Udayana we study the Indian rational or natural theology in general. For the only philosophical system other than the Nyadya-Vaisesika that admitted the existence of God and developed a doctrine of God is the Vedanta system. But the method of approach pursued by the Vedantins, whether they belonged to the school of monism or dualism or any other of the diverse intermediary sub-schools of the Vedanta, distinguishes itself from that of the Nyaya-Vaisesikas in that it was the second kind of approach we spoke of at the beginning, namely the theological] or scriptural. Their arguments were primarily based on the authority of the scriptural texts, while rational arguments were relegated to a subordinate place. The Vedantins went even to the extent of saying that neither the existence nor the nature or attributes of God could be known without the help of the sacred scriptures. Since they admit the intrinsic validity (svatah pramadnyam) of the Veda, independent of God, such an approach is also consistent with the doctrines of their school.

The present work is a modest attempt to give a brief introduction to the doctrine of God as found in Udayana’s works in general, in his Nyayakusumanjali in particular. The writer’s aim has been to give as faithful an interpretation of Udayana’s ideas as possible in the given amount of space. How far he has succeeded in the realization of his aim should be left to the judgement of the critical reader. With a view to acquaint the reader with the manner of argumentation of the author of the Nyayakusumanjali, he has let Udayana himself speak by quoting him in translation wherever an important point was at issue.

This study was originally planned to be published as the introductory volume to an English translation of the Nyayakusumanjali It is hoped that the publication of the translation of the Nyayakusumanjali will follow in the near future.

It gives me great pleasure to express my indebtedness and gratitude to those who have in one way or other helped me to bring my present work to completion. I am greatly indebted, first of all, to Prof. Dr. E. FRAUWALLNER, Professor emeritus in Indology at the University of Vienna who introduced me into the study of Indian philosophical texts and in whose seminars I had the happiness of taking part for more than three years. Even after I left Vienna he has shown great interest in my work and encouraged me to study Udayana.

To Prof. Dr. J Gonpa I owe a debt of gratitude not only for inviting me to join the staff of his institute in the University of Utrecht, but also for his active interest and constant encouragement in my work. Besides reading the manuscript of the present work, he took all the trouble of going through my translation of the entire Nyayakusumafjali and offered many suggestions for improvement.

I am indebted to Prof. Dr. G. OBERHAMMER of the University of Vienna for all the help he gave me during my stay in Vienna and afterwards for following my work with friendly interest. He went through the manuscript of this book offering valuable suggestions for improvement. My special thanks are due to him for including this book in the «Publications of the De Nobili Research Library"’ of which he is the editor.

I am very grateful to Prof. Dr. L. ScumirHausen of the University of Minster and Dr. T. Verrer of Utrecht University for their valuable help in understanding some difficult passages of Udayana’s text. I express my thanks to Dr. T. Goupriaan and Dr. K. R. van Kooy, both of the University of Utrecht, for their kind help in reading the proofs. My sincere thanks go also to the staff of the libraries of the Institute of Oriental Languages in Utrecht and of the University of Utrecht for their willing and ready services.

Despite my great interest in Udayana and his works, I have not found him an easy author. What will be presented in this book is but one aspect of the contribution of Udayana to Indian thought. If my modest contribution will incite an interest in the study of Udayana and his works I shall deem my- self amply rewarded.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








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